Which works best in the classroom — iPads™ or Chromebooks? Educators have debated that ever since Apple’s tablet and Google’s laptop first appeared on the market in 2010 and 2011 respectively.
Now that several years have passed, opinions abound among each device’s earlier adopters. We’ve studied the material and come up with a list of pros and cons for each.
- Low cost — With devices like the Lenovo 100S™ retailing at around $179, Chromebooks are an attractive solution for budget-strapped schools
- Google Apps — Google has a suite of ad-free, teacher-approved education apps that run optimally on the Chromebook OS
- Shareable — You can set up multiple user accounts on a single device
- Keyboarding — There’s no need to buy an attachable keyboard for a Chromebook, so writing papers on these devices is much like writing papers on a traditional laptop
- Security — Chromebook’s security is excellent — comparable to the iPad’s — and it offers administrators more control over content
- Portability — iPads are even more lightweight than Chromebooks, weighing in at 16.5 ounces
- High resolution — iPad’s resolution of 2048 X 1536 blows away the average Chromebook resolution of 1366 X 768
- Camera and video — The built-in camera and video combined with the portability make it possible to build 21st century multi-media projects into the standard curriculum
- iTunes U — The extensive collection of free audio and video classes adds robust up-to-date scholarship to your school’s curriculum
- Digital textbooks — The tablet platform works more intuitively with digital textbooks, which can save students big bucks on course materials
- Popularity — Students love iPads
- Size — Even though they’re more portable than laptops, they still have more bulk than a tablet
- Limited storage — Chromebooks are built with cloud storage in mind so the average 16-gig of storage makes it impossible to run apps like Microsoft Word and Adobe Photoshop like you can on an ordinary laptop. You can run the online version of these apps, but nothing works as well as the Google Apps suite
- Wi-Fi-dependent — If you’re school’s Wi-Fi is unpredictable, then these mini-laptops are not for you. They’ll lose more than half their functionality every time there’s an interruption
- Limited hardware connectivity — Connecting projectors and printers without Wi-Fi can be troublesome
- Browser limitations — Although it’s possible to run non-Apple browsers on the iPad, nothing works as well as Safari. This can limit access to sites that run best on, say, Windows Explorer or Google Chrome
- No Adobe Flash — The inability to run Adobe Flash can hamper research
- Adaptation — If faculty have no past experience with Macs, the learning curve for iPads can be steep. In K-12 environments, this may stir backlash among teachers who are notoriously late adopters. If educators are not adept with the technology, they will quickly lose authority in their classrooms as students surpass them
- No keyboard — It’s necessary to purchase an extra piece of hardware if you want to use the tablet for writing papers
- Popularity — Students may love iPads a little too much. They’re stolen more often than Chromebooks. Also, at least one study has shown that kids are likely to view them as places to have fun. The Chromebook meanwhile is seen as a place to get to work.